Veterans’ Nursing Home Project Supported by Collier County Leadership

A Board member from our MOASWF Chapter routinely attends the monthly meeting of the Collier County Veterans Council.  At the 20 August meeting, County Commissioner Burt Saunders presented an update on progress toward Collier County’s planned veterans’ nursing home.  The nursing home will be located on the northeast corner of the 165-acre golf course at Golden Gate Parkway and Collier Boulevard.  Commissioner Saunders reported that Collier County approved setting aside $10 million for the construction of additional square footage to provide adult day care and outpatient therapy.  This money would come from the 1-cent sales surtax approved by voters in the 2018 for a variety of projects.  The local money would be contingent upon the Florida State Legislature earmarking $10 million in the 2024 session.  The County earlier pledged $30 million for the project.  Commissioner Saunders said County leaders want this nursing home to be a showcase for veterans’ nursing homes of the future.  The approval for the project from the federal VA should come in 2025 and design work would take one year throughout 2026. Construction should take up to 18 months, putting completion in 2027 or 2028.  Collier County is home to roughly 23,000 veterans.

2023 JROTC Awards Banquet

The 2023 JROTC Awards Banquet presented by MOASWF was held on 12 May at Glen Eagle Golf and Country Club.

The banquet honors JROTC cadets who are rising seniors in Collier County high schools and who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and performance in their respective high school JROTC programs.

Pictured here (L-R) are COL Ian Falk, Cadet Leland Von Holle, Cadet Mary Benson, COL Michael Shoen, Cadet Aramis Rivera, and MAJ John Sarnecky.

MOASWF sponsors JROTC Cadets on Honor Flight

Collier-Lee Honor Flight Mission 23 will take off from Southwest Florida International for Washington, D.C. on Saturday, 29 April.

On board will be southwest Florida veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.  They will visit the Iwo Jima Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Also on board will be seven Collier County JROTC Cadets sponsored by MOASWF to serve as Guardians for seven of those Veterans.

Each veteran on the flight is assigned a guardian to accompany and assist him or her throughout the course of the day.  Veterans and their guardians attended a Meet-and-Greet on Sunday, 23 April to receive a briefing on the mission.  Pictured here are five of the seven JROTC Guardians along with Senior Army Instructor LTC Kerrye Glass and some of the veterans they are supporting during Mission 23.

Naples High School JROTC Awards Ceremony

Naples High School JROTC held its Awards Ceremony on 30 March 2023.  It was well attended by parents and community members.  LCDR Robert Perfetto, MOASWF 2d Vice President, was a presenter at the ceremony.  To view photos of the ceremony, go to

Chapter Update (March 2023)

Jeff Cahoon

March 2023

Hello Fellow MOASWF Members:

It’s been a while since you’ve received a Chapter update, so here goes:

  • Our new website ( is up and running. To log in, your user name is your email address and you’ll need to set your password.  This WordPress platform is less expensive than our previous Wix platform and I believe will be a useful and informative site.  We will continue to add useful content, and the “Events” tab should be especially helpful.  Our membership roster is now on the site.  Please take a look at it and let me know (now and ongoing) of any corrections or updates.  And, please let me know of any suggestions you have for improving the site.  Many thanks to Jack Fulmer for spearheading our migration to the new website.
  • Last October we held an informal gathering at Ridgway Bar and Grill in Naples. We had about 18 attendees and the feedback I received was that we should organize more of these.  Your Board agrees, and we are working to organize some more this year.  Watch for details under “Events” on the website.
  • We held our 2022 Annual Business Meeting at Glen Eagle Golf and Country Club last November. That breakfast meeting appears to have been scheduled a little too early in the morning since attendance was light (too bad, since the breakfast buffet was fabulous!).  Our next Annual Business Meeting will be a dinner event in November 2024, likely at VFW Post 7721 in Naples.  This is always an important meeting and this year may include a visit from a MOAA National representative, so please try your best to attend.  Again, watch for details under “Events” on the website.
  • In December, we held a Holiday Gathering at VFW Post 7721 in Naples. We had about 15 attendees and we’re hoping to improve participation for this and other events going forward.  The VFW staff were extremely accommodating (we hold our Board meetings there) and we’re hoping to continue to foster a strong relationship with that Post, including holding some events and meetings there (it’s now a smoke-free facility).  Again, many thanks to Jack Fulmer for facilitating our relationship with VFW Post 7721.
  • In February, we held another enjoyable Military Ball at Vanderbilt Country Club (VCC). Check out the photos on our website.  COL John Granskog, a member of VCC, was our sponsor.  Neil Frost graciously agreed to again head up planning for the Ball and his planning committee (John Granskog, Cassie Demetsky, Brigitte Smith, Robert Perfetto, Kathy Kunschner, Jessica Stearns, Bill Hodges, Jack Fulmer) did a great job.  Uptown Express provided the music again this year and we were able to honor our Past President, Susan Farr, with a MOAA Leadership Award.  Susan also received a plaque from Collier County JROTC in recognition of her past support.  Again this year, we had support from Collier County JROTC Units.  Cadets helped us set up the morning of the Ball and provided the Drum Corp, Sabre Line, and Color Guard.  Many thanks to COL Michael Shoen, MAJ John Sarnecky, and all the Cadets for their participation and outstanding support.  For the past few years, VCC has been a fabulous venue for our Military Ball.  Unfortunately, VCC will be undergoing renovations late this year, so we are in the process of securing another venue for our 2024 Ball.  More to come, so, again, watch for details under “Events”.
  • During the past year, three of our members have passed: 1 Lt. Joseph Innes, LTC George Beshara, and COL David Elliott.
  • On 18 February, Neil Frost and I staffed a MOASWF table at the Collier County Veterans Expo. This is an annual event and I encourage everyone in our Chapter to pay it a visit next February.  You would be impressed and inspired by the number and variety of programs and volunteers available to support veterans in Southwest Florida.
  • Our Legislative Chair, Jeff Kuhnreich, reports that the proposed Major Richard Star Act has still not progressed to a vote in either the House or the Senate. This bill would provide wounded veterans, who were not able to reach full retirement, with concurrent receipt of both retired pay and disability pay.  There is reason for optimism in that both Senator Rick Scott and Senator Marco Rubio have recently signed on in support.  Unfortunately, Rep. Byron Donalds (Southwest Florida District 19) has yet to sign on in support.  Jeff continues to provide Rep. Donalds’ office with information on the importance of this bill.  With 335 House Members and 63 Senators already signed on in support, it seems likely to me that this bill will eventually pass.
  • On 29 April, a Collier-Lee Honor Flight mission will take off for Washington, DC. Our Chapter donated $4,500 to sponsor 8 JROTC Cadets (and one chaperone) to serve as Guardians on this mission.  Each veteran on the flight is assigned a Guardian.  We believe this will be a wonderful and fulfilling experience for those Cadets.
  • Each year, our Chapter supports Collier County JROTC programs with a JROTC Awards Banquet. This year’s banquet will be held on 12 May at Glen Eagle Golf and Country Club.
  • At our February Board meeting, our Board approved the following Chapter goals for 2023:
    • Implement the new WordPress website
    • Formalize an on-boarding process for new members
    • Reinforce our Chapter Personal Affairs/Surviving Spouse organization
    • Plan for a Military Ball in 2024
    • Continue to define how our Chapter will accomplish our mission of Supporting the Military Community
    • Increase Chapter membership by a net of 10 new members over 2022
  • Our Board’s goal is to populate our website’s Events Calendar with just the right number and types of meetings and events that will provide opportunities for members to gather, socialize, and be informed. The tough part is in the planning, especially when costs for venues and food are involved.  It’s always disappointing to have to cancel an event due to lack of participation.  I anticipate our website’s Events Calendar will be a big help in this regard.  Please let me know your suggestions.  Informal “happy hour” gatherings, a Naples Princess cruise, and a Personal Affairs/Surviving Spouse dinner presentation are likely candidates.
  • Our Chapter Secretary, Shea Mola, has resigned from our Board as she continues to recover from recent surgery on her hand. This has been a challenging time for Shea and we wish her a full recovery.  Meanwhile, we have need of an interim secretary for the remainder of CY 2023.  If you are interested in stepping into this role, please let me know.
  • As you may know, our Chapter is a member of the Florida Council of Chapters (FCOC). There are 41 MOAA Chapters in Florida and FCOC does a great job of providing support to those Chapters.  I recommend you check out FCOC’s website (  And, you may want to consider attending the FCOC Annual Convention at World Golf Village in St. Augustine (19-21 May).  Information is available on the FCOC website and it looks to be a really enjoyable event.
  • If you haven’t already paid your 2023 Chapter Dues, you can pay them through our new website.

Thank you for your membership and ongoing support of our Chapter.

Never Stop Serving


Jeff Cahoon

President, MOASWF

Joseph Innes Memorial Ceremony and Dinner

This event will be held at The Strand Golf and Country Club 5840 Strand Boulevard Naples, Florida 34110 on March 14, 2023.  The event starts at 5:00 pm and will be held in the main Clubhouse.

The VFW Post 7721 will perform full military honors to include a Flag Folding and Presentation, the playing of Taps, and a Rifle Salute.  The price per individual for this event is $35.  Checks can be made payable to MOASWF Foundation and mailed to Jack Fulmer 1424 Princess Sabal Point Naples, Florida 34119

The First Woman in the Marines’ Silent Drill Platoon and the Family History That Led to Her New Command

A platoon of Marines conduct military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Then-1st Lt. Kelsey Hastings leads a platoon of Marines from Marine Barracks Washington while conducting military funeral honors for U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, Sept. 24, 2021. Hoover died on Aug. 26, 2021, as a result of an enemy attack while supporting non-combatant evacuation operations in Kabul, Afghanistan. Twelve other service members from the U.S. Marines Corps, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Army died in the same attack supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser/Arlington National Cemetery)

When Kelsey Hastings was a young girl, she went to a summer festival in Seattle. Among those performing that weekend was the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, a team of Marines that executes incredibly precise routines full of spins and tosses of their hand-polished M1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets.

“I saw them and I was like, ‘That is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,'” Hastings said.

Two decades later, she is leading the storied 24-Marine unit as its first female member and commander.

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The Marine Corps press release that announced the groundbreaking posting last week lauded now-Capt. Hastings’ “tireless work ethic and high standard of performance” and called her “a stand-out performer.” But it’s her overwhelming enthusiasm and affection for the Corps that’s most apparent when she talks about her new role. was able to interview Hastings on Wednesday at Marine Barracks Washington — itself a historic place that boasts being “the oldest post of the Corps.”

During the conversation, Hastings said that she never set out to be a first for anything, instead focusing on her work. The nomination to lead the Silent Drill Platoon came from the commander of the Marine barracks, Col. Robb Sucher.

Hastings recalled being in a meeting with Sucher when he asked her, “Hey, this is the role that I want to put you in. … Is that something you’re prepared for?”

“Those are some top-notch guys so I am like, ‘Oh, sure, I’ll lead them,'” she said before bursting out in a laugh, one of many during the conversation.

The Marine officer said she joined the Corps to follow in her dad’s footsteps; he was an infantry Marine himself, another example of a long tradition of family service in the branch.

“He’d tell some random stories of boot camp or when he was at the fleet at the dinner table when I was a kid,” Hastings said.

“I was howling. I thought they were the funniest stories, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want a story like that!'”

Then, when it came time to pick a specialty, Hastings said that she “fell madly in love” with artillery after seeing a shoot early in her officer training.

“When the round does go off, it just shakes your whole body, and you’re like, ‘Yeah!!'” she explained, again with a laugh.

Hastings said that she sees her impact as a groundbreaking woman as being mixed in with the unit’s mission to be one of the most visible parts of the Marine Corps.

“Everyone here has an opportunity to be a role model,” she said. “You portray something that’s bigger than yourself.”

Before coming to Marine Barracks Washington in 2020, Hastings was stationed in Hawaii with 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, for about three years. There, she first began to command Marines and eventually became a battery executive officer.

To her, leadership “is not hard.” “It’s more just caring about the Marines and their well-being and making sure that the mission has been accomplished,” she explained. Though, she did admit that she’s called her dad — now a firefighter in Seattle — for advice and to hear out the occasional complaint.

“It’s a great honor; it’s awesome to be a role model for both men and women,” Hastings said. “But I feel really privileged to be able to lead with these Marines and get to work with them.”

Hastings will command the Silent Drill Platoon for the 2023 parade season. She previously served as a marching platoon commander in 2021 and a marching company executive officer in 2022.

— Konstantin Toropin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.